Using Some Free Utilities to Troubleshoot a Windows Crash

Reliability Monitor1

I occasionally post about how I try to resolve any unusual happenings on my Windows 7 PC so it may help others in the same boat. Yesterday, my son was playing a YouTube video when the PC shut down abruptly. I wasn’t there at the time. He restarted it again okay but he didn’t reopen the browser as he thought the crash was caused by a virus. After he told me what had happened, my first thoughts weren’t a virus but either overheating or a hardware problem, possibly the hard drive or the power supply. I’d installed my 1 TB hard drive with Windows 7 in November 2009 so it’s almost 3 years old now. The power supply must be at least 6 years old.

So fearing the worst, I booted up the next day and figured I’d check it out with some free utilities – Acronis Drive Monitor, Windows Reliability Monitor and Windows Event Viewer to see if they might give a clue to explain the Windows crash.

Acronis Drive Monitor

Download this free utility and it sits in the system tray monitoring your hard drive health. Here’s the disk overview

Acronis Drive Monitor

So the hard drive isn’t in the best of health and the temperature is slightly high, but the errors weren’t any different from the errors it seems to throw up all the time. I know the PC isn’t clogged with dust and it isn’t seriously overheating, and so it doesn’t seem likely that it crashed from overheating. So I looked at two utilities built into Windows 7 – Reliability Monitor and Event Viewer.

Reliability Monitor

Launch Reliability Monitor by clicking the Windows orb and keying Reliability in the search box there and then clicking View reliability history. On the chart (shown at the top of this post), click on the day of the crash and below it there’s a summary of the reliability details for that day

Reliability Monitor2

On 22 August, there was a video hardware error, then the PC shutdown, so not the hard drive or power supply at fault as I first thought.

Event Viewer

You launch Event Viewer by clicking the Windows orb and keying Event Viewer in the search box there. I clicked on System and scrolled down to the time of the crash

Event Viewer

The Critical event ID 41 is the reboot and the BugCheck error below it indicates that the computer rebooted from a bugcheck. I googled the error code and got nowhere but found out on a forum that you can download a free utility called WhoCrashed for analysing the crash dump created.

WhoCrashed

By the way, when installing WhoCrashed, take care not to install unnecessary toolbars and utilities. Read the install screens carefully. Launching the program and clicking Report gave me the answers I needed

WhoCrashed

Looks like the ATI Radeon driver for my video card wasn’t up to playing that particular YouTube video and caused the system crash. They recommended searching for an updated video driver which may solve the problem.

I’m not an expert on troubleshooting system crashes, but I hope I’ve shown you that it’s not too difficult for anyone to get some answers about a possible cause. I hope I’ve showed you how to go about this using some free utilities. I’d love to hear how you troubleshoot a system crash.

One Response

  1. Vinod Says:

    Nice article

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